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Homepage Forums Six-Pack of Peaks Challenge™ Q&A Conditions on hike to Helen Lake (Northern California)

  • Conditions on hike to Helen Lake (Northern California)

    Posted by Jeff on August 10, 2023 at 2:34 pm

    Had a question from challenger Liz who wrote:

    I asked a few friends to join me on the Helen Lake hike and they don’t want to do it citing avalanche risks. Please share your thoughts and experiences as I am considering substituting a different hike.

    Here’s my response:

    There are no risks of avalanche hiking to Helen Lake at this time. That may be a bold statement, but it’s late season, and there is a lot of snow melt.

    One of our other challengers just hiked it on August 9th. Check out the photos from her hike log: https://socialhiker.net/hike_log/ghost-of-helen-lake/

    If you wanted to venture further, that’s a different story. Above Helen Lake is “Avalanche Gulch” it’s not prone to avalanches this time of year (too little snow), but it is steep, with scree and loose rock. Not advised.

    I climbed Mt Shasta in June 2018, and you can see photos of the section up to Helen Lake on my blog: https://socalhiker.net/climbing-mount-shasta-via-avalanche-gulch/

    There was nothing technical up to Helen Lake, and there will be less snow now then there was when I hiked it.

    I also recommend the Mount Shasta Avalanche Center, which has detailed information on current conditions. Note that they currently do not see any avalanche conditions, though they mention rockfall risk on the upper mountain (above Helen Lake).

    https://www.shastaavalanche.org/climbing-advisory

    Hope this helps you convince your friends to join you. There is a really cool shelter at Horse Camp where John Muir stopped when he climbed Shasta. Awesome maps, books, and artifacts.

    If anyone has first-hand knowledge to add to this, please reply here.

    Christine replied 10 months, 1 week ago 2 Members · 1 Reply
  • 1 Reply
  • Christine

    Member
    August 10, 2023 at 10:00 pm

    For Liz and Helen Lake:

    This has been a crazy year up and down the Cali mountains. Conditions constantly changing. Check the sources Jeff recommended, and don’t be afraid to ask questions.

    Hope you are able to do what sounds like an amazing hike!

    Remember the most important part of hiking though…

    It’s not reaching the peak.

    It’s not getting back to your car.

    It’s not seeing x…y…z.

    It is getting home to your bed.

    To hike another day.


    VERY experienced hike friends – including some former military – have all told me this.


    I know you’ll make the right decision. Can’t wait to see whatever your 6 Pack may be’s photos!

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